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Scottish Government Climate Change Plan

this article is abstracted from an artice by Nigel Holmes, CEO Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association  dated 1st March 2018

The Scottish Government has just released their updated Climate Change Plan: Click here for more information.  The Climate Change Plan is a statutory document, and sets out how Scotland will meet the emissions reduction targets under the current legislation. The Scottish Government has committed to playing its part in delivering the Paris Agreement and intends to introduce a new Climate Change Bill this year with even more ambitious targets than those prescribed by the 2009 Act.

The Climate Change Plan and the 2017 Energy Strategy

The new Climate Change Plan, along with the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy, provides the strategic framework for delivering the transition to a low carbon Scotland. Building on previous reports on policies and proposals, the Climate Change Plan sets out the path to a low carbon economy while helping to deliver sustainable economic growth and secure the wider benefits to a greener, fairer and healthier Scotland in 2032. This Climate Plan includes policies and proposals to reduce emissions from electricity generation, buildings (both residential and non-residential), transport, and industry. To read the Scottish Government Energy Strategy click here


The Plan builds on Scotland’s considerable success to date in sectors such as renewable electricity, and paves the way for further transformational change. The Scottish Government is also continuing to support the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a vital technology to meet our long-term emissions reductions targets.

  • The new Energy Strategy sets the target of delivering 50% of all Scotland’s energy needs from renewables by 2030.
  • It is anticipated that by 2030, Scotland’s electricity system, already largely decarbonised, will be increasingly important as a power source for heat and transport.
  • System quality and resilience will be ensured through diverse generation technologies, including gas generation, increased storage, smart grid technologies and improved interconnection.
  • · Emissions from electricity generation are anticipated to fall by 28% over the lifetime of the Plan.


Bold new plans for transport were announced in the Programme for Government 2017‑2018. This set out a new target for phasing out the need to buy petrol and diesel engine cars and vans by 2032. It's assumed that this will be driven by a significant increase in the uptake of ultra-low emission electric and hydrogen vehicles, which may also play a role in management of the wider energy system. Significant decarbonisation of transport by 2032 is envisaged, with emissions reducing by 37% over the lifetime of the Plan. To achieve this:

  • the Scottish Government will examine the scope for procuring hybrid and low carbon powertrains in the public sector, such as marine fleet vessel replacement programme.
  • it's assumed that plug-in vehicles will be commonplace, with vehicle-to-grid infrastructure to support electric vehicles in place plus support for hydrogen powered vehicles.
  • Low emission vehicles will also play a role in the wider energy system, with electric and hydrogen vehicles having a role in energy storage.
  • Renewable fuels of non-biological origin (such as electrolytic hydrogen made using renewable energy) will make up a growing proportion of transport fuel. For an example of Heriot-Watt's work in this area click here

Built Environment

Reducing energy use in buildings is critical to achieving climate change and fuel poverty objectives, and in 2015 Scotland designated energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority. The cornerstone of this is Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) which will significantly improve the energy efficiency of domestic and non-domestic buildings, as well as decarbonise the heat supply of buildings.

  • In non-domestic buildings – referred to as ‘services’ in the Plan – Scotland will need to reduce emissions by 53% over the lifetime of the Plan. This will require increasing uptake of both conservation measures and low carbon heating sources, gradually to 2025, and increasing the rate of uptake thereafter.
  • In domestic buildings, emissions are anticipated to fall by 23% over the lifetime of the Plan. To achieve these targets greater energy efficiency will be required, with, it's assumed, the needvfro a greater uptake of low carbon heating sources (heat pumps, electrical resistance and district heating) and energy efficiency measures after 2025.

· A route map for SEEP will be published in 2018 setting out the long term ambition for the programme as well as key milestones.


For the industrial sector the plans are broadly consistent with the existing EU and UK regulatory frameworks, with a fall in industrial emissions of 21% over the lifetime of the Plan through a combination of fuel diversification, cost saving energy efficiency and fuel recovery, and participation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

The technologies that are considered to be critical to further reduce emissions and that have the potential to drive even faster emissions reductions are:.

  • the derivation of hydrogen from low carbon sources, a technology that  has a variety of industrial applications that can contribute to decarbonisation. This includes the production of hydrocarbon-based chemicals such as methanol and transport fuels, or in the production of ‘green’ ammonia, which is used in the manufacture of fertilisers.
  • CCS may also help unlock the potential for large scale hydrogen production, and Scotland can support research and international collaboration.
  • The near-term demonstration of small scale CCS projects, along with the development of CO2 Utilisation (CCU) applications, will be critical for the cost-effective decarbonisation of heat, power and industry.
  • CCS is thought to represent the only viable technology capable of mitigating industrial scale CO2 emissions in some of the world’s most carbon intensive industrial processes.

The Scottish Government has supported several projects which demonstrate how hydrogen can be renewably produced, stored, and used when needed for local energy and transport. There is potential to replicate or scale up these projects. The Scottish Government has worked with the UK Government and other partners to develop the 2017 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Roadmap (Hydrogen and Fuel Cells: Opportunities for Growth – A Roadmap for the UK.  The Scottish Government remains committed to supporting further research and development in this area, including proposals by SGN, which manages the gas distribution network in Scotland, to assess the viability of constructing and operating the first hydrogen distribution network in Scotland.

The Scottish Government will continue to consider and support emerging CCS, CCU and hydrogen opportunities. This will include exploring funding streams such as the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP). It is also seeking to establish new forums to help the Scottish Government work with industry and academia to advance and track progress on CCS, CCU and Hydrogen, as well as continuing to commission evidence on the impact of technology, regulatory and market barriers to hydrogen and CCU opportunities in Scotland.

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